Secret Link between Taste and Temperature
Secret Link between Taste and Temperature
  • Lee Jung Seungji
  • 승인 2008.10.07 19:55
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 Have you ever experienced that the taste of certain food seems to change based on its temperature?  For example, warm ice cream is not that delicious and cool broth is not really as good as its opposite.  These mere trifles have scientific reasons as well.  If you are curious about this, let’s figure it out together.

G. Von Bekesy has suggested in ‘the duplexity theory of taste’ that a human tongue senses differences in temperature as well as the four tastes (sweet, salty, sour, and bitter).  In fact, taste means a kind of sense mixed with different senses.  According to his theory, Von Bekesy presents that the sense of temperature is not always fused with the four basic tastes.  For example, heat and warmth blend very well with bitter and sweet tastes, but don’t mix well with salty and sour foods.  On the other hand, the sense of coolness could be fused very well with salty and sour tastes, but don’t mix with those of bitter and sweet, so that it and might taste like these are separate from each other.


In fact, the effects of temperature are not fixed, but the results of many researchers’ experiments suggest a slight difference.  The higher the temperature of food is, the better people can recognize sweetness, and the lower it is, the more people are aware of saltiness and bitterness.  In addition, the taste of sourness has little to do with temperature.  For example, when a meal’s temperature is increased to 17℃ ~ 42℃, the usual intake temperature for a meal, a salty and bitter titer (a kind of quinine sulphate) rises as well, but a sour titer will not change much.  However, a sweet titer (a kind of dulcin) decreases once, and then increases again at 37℃.

1. Salty

Saltiness is the basic taste presented in food.  Saltiness is simultaneously a taste that can be greatly changed by temperature.  The lower the temperature is, the more salt people recognize.  Therefore, if hot food gets cool, it makes the food taste saltier.  If you have ever experienced a cool bean-paste stew which is not delicious, this principle could be the cause.

2. Sweet

Sweetness makes people react in a very complicated manner.  Although sugared water of the same concentration had a strong taste at a similar temperature as the body, it could not be strongly observed when at a temperature divergent with body heat.  Because this phenomenon happens especially at lower temperatures, cool coffee requires more sugar than hot coffee to sweeten.


3. Sour

Despite changes in temperature, people might not detect much difference in sourness.  Yet when sour and sweet tastes are mixed, for instance in fruit, the food appears sweeter when the meal temperature increases.  That’s because sweetness is affected much more by temperature than sourness is.

4. Bitter

At temperatures below normal body temperature, bitter tastes are not changed.  However, at higher temperatures, the taste decreases in inverse proportion to the increase of temperature.


People cannot eat food served above 70℃ because it would be too hot, and they cannot distinguish between tastes below 5℃.  Hence, the proper temperature for food is around 60~70℃ for hot food and 12~5℃ for cool food in order to taste it better.  As a result, cooking around these temperatures is the key point.  To do this, it is important to eat meals as soon as they are served, and to arrange the cooking order so that hot soup is made last.

For example, the proper temperature of yogurt is around 4~8℃.  This is because butterfat is separated, so yogurt becomes crunchy when it is frozen.  Also, another reason is that as the acidity of yogurt increases, it becomes sour and unpleasant.  Soda pop like cola is appropriately drunken at around 4℃, and meals like Sushi or Gimbap should be around 10℃, in order not to freeze the rice.  In addition, Kimchi is mostly delicious if stored at around 0.5℃, the temperature underground.






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